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Efficiency or effectiveness?

We all have trade-offs to make in our businesses between the efficiency of doing something the best and the effectiveness of doing the best thing. Obviously, we’d always want to do the best thing the best way, but we are often forced to choose. This was brought to mind the other day as I drove down a local highway and saw a truck transporting a house. You’ve seen ’em with the “wide load” sign on the front, taking up two lanes of the highway. And it got me to wondering what kind of delivery experience this is for the customer. I can almost hear the phone call…


“You must be home between 8 and 6 for the delivery, ma’am.”
(Pause.) “But you have my home. That’s what I’m getting delivered, remember?”
“Uh, yes, ma’am. We understand that it is a bit of a hardship, but it’s the only way we can efficiently deliver our products and keep our costs low.”
“So you want me to sit on a vacant lot all day?”
“Yes, ma’am. And can you give me an alternate number to reach you in case no one answers your home phone…”
OK, this is silly, I admit. But it never seems silly to us when repair services or appliance delivery companies think we should block out our whole day just to accommodate their efficiencies. Yeah, I know efficiency is important. And I can understand that with the price of gasoline and wages to the drivers rising all the time, efficiency is even more important in some ways than it used to be.
But how many people would use the first repair service that promised to be there when you wanted the guy there? How many would even pay more for that? How many would absolutely be loyal to that company from then on because their time is so valuable?
Efficiency is great, but too many businesses are pursuing the same old customer-unfriendly (but efficient) ways as they have for 100 years. They are just waiting for someone to come along who offers a better deal. Because efficiency saves money but effectiveness grows revenue. Do you blindly reach for efficiency every time when you should be evaluating the trade-off between efficiency and effectiveness?

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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Discussion

  1. Avatar Frank Reed

    Mike,
    You hit the nail on the head with this. It is actually the very simple things that differentiate businesses from their competitors. Simple in theory but maybe difficult in delivery, though. I think about the plumber who says “I will be there at 2 pm” and follows through then the next time he is booked at 2 because his reputation has made him too busy. At that point, the customer who was thrilled the first time may not be thrilled the second time. Interesting puzzle for business owners for sure.

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